Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic has been busy! After finishing up at the ATP World Tour Finals in London, he spent the weekend in Belgrade celebrating and visiting his childhood coach Jelena Gencic, received GQ’s “Ace of the Year” award, filmed a movie cameo in Bulgaria, and traveled to Bosnia to pick up another award, while talking with reporters about his outlook for the 2012 season – and joking about his head.
News broke out on Wednesday that Novak Djokovic would be playing himself in the upcoming Sylvester Stallone-written movie “Expendables 2,” alongside actors Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, Bruce Willis, Jason Statham and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Filming for the tennis star took place in Sofia, Bulgaria along with some extraneous fun relishing the citiy’s trendy night life.
Interestingly enough, the only clue to Djokovic’s initial post-season adventures came by way of countryman Janko Tipsarevic, who said the two were heading to the Maldives for vacation after the ATP World Tour Finals. But I guess when Sylvester Stallone, your childhood idol, asks you to star in a movie, you don’t deny the opportunity.
First on the agenda though was a weekend of celebrating that included a night out at club Magacin in Belgrade.
The trip to Belgrade, however, was inspired for an entirely different reason. American television company CBS is currently filming a documentary on the world’s #1 tennis player, and it included a sweet reunion with his childhood coach Jelena Gencic after not having seen each other for four-and-a-half years. She also revealed the secret to Djokovic’s match point-saving return forehand winner against Roger Federer in the semifinals of the U.S. Open earlier this year.
Djokovic arrived to her house with a big hug, telling her “I have brought that which we have been dreaming about and which I had promised you I would win.” He then showed her his prized Wimbledon trophy. Gencic held the trophy and replied that her “happiness at this moment has no end.”
Before going into the house, he asked to see her garden. It was the same one which they had spent countless hours conversing in and where he had told her he would one day be #1.
As they entered the house, the jokes began and it became reminiscent of a time many years prior. Gencic teased her pupil and confessed she still had his childhood racquet from where everything had originated 17 years ago.
Gencic: “Do you remember this racquet?”
Djokovic answered jokingly: “Of course, I remember! I know that the cap fell off the bottom of the handle and I know that … oh my, you never changed the strings!”
Gencic replied: “Yes, I did!”
They were like old friends, with Gencic even bringing up his famed forehand return winner against Federer at the U.S. Open: “On match point [down], you played the most impossible shot, the most difficult shot …” But Djokovic interrupted, “How is it impossible when that is the shot we were training for for years?” To which Gencic joked, “But that’s why I’m bringing it up!” followed by laughter from both. Djokovic admitted to media that he learned his signature “crosscourt returns and down-the-line backhands” from Gencic’s unique training style when he was a kid. All things have come full circle as that save on match point has now become his career-defining moment.
Djokovic ended his visit with an invitation for Gencic as his guest for the opening day of Wimbledon in 2012. But she joked, “Nole, prepare me a seat two weeks later when the finals are, so we can celebrate a new [Wimbledon] trophy together!”
“If I didn’t have Jelena Gencic or my parents who believed in me and my potential, I probably wouldn’t have had the desire to become world #1,” Djokovic concluded. See the full video of their reunion below including video footage of Djokovic hitting on court as a kid.
Following this momentous visit, he departed for a short trip to Banja Luka, Bosnia to accept the country’s “Person of the Year” award. There, Djokovic was asked by reporters concerning his movie role to which he said that “he had just filmed his [movie cameo] yesterday,” calling the cast “legends” and jokingly admitted that he’s better as a tennis player than an actor.
During the same news conference, he also talked about his goals for 2012.
“It’s crucial that if I prepare well for next year, I will have a great chance to begin the year [right], and it is that beginning that is crucial for the entire season. So, in Australia I’ll try again to get the title, and I believe [my play at the Australian Open] will give me good knowledge about how the rest of my season could go. I think I’m at the top of my career and my abilities, and I believe in the quality [of my game], and why not? I will always have bigger goals.
When asked about his injury status, he playfully replied: “I don’t have any injuries. I have enough time to heal everything – especially my head, which is a little crazy.”
(Magacin photo courtesy of HelloMagazin.rs; screen shots via YouTube)